Montcalm County commission cancels court cuts, taps surplus instead

Posted at 10:38 PM, Oct 23, 2017

MONTCALM CO., Mich. -- Financial woes continue for a West Michigan county trying to bounce back from years of financial problems. This time, a Montcalm County judge threw a wrench into new budget plans.

The Montcalm County Board of Commissioners voted on its new, current budget about a month ago. It accounts for $13 million dollars in projected spending. In the budget, the district court faced a more than an $82,000 cut. When supervising Judge Donald Hemingsen said 'no' and threatened to sue to stop the cut, commissioners faced a dilemma considering the county is already strapped for cash.

So to avoid a lawsuit, the county board voted tonight to cancel most of the cuts to district court. The vote was 6 to 3. The district court will now only see a roughly $8,000 cut to basic expenditures, which commissioners said is similar to other departments.

So where will the $75,000 cut come from now? The board said it will come from the county surplus.

Commissioners said there's a $90,000 surplus in this new budget. That means after tonight's vote to stop the cut to district court, there's only $15,000 remaining in surplus for the next 11 months.

Patrick Carr, board chairman said, "A good scenario would be that we were under on our revenue projections and revenues come in higher, and by the end of the year we've got a greater surplus than what we had budgeted. But if revenues stay where we projected them for the budget and expenses stay where they're at, we're going to have $15,000 of a cushion to work with" for the next 11 months.

He said the judge has the authority by law to push back on the budget cuts as witnessed.